After returning home from our honeymoon abroad, Jason and I decided it was time to start a family. We’d been together for nearly eight years, married close to three, and it felt like the right time. This being our first, I decided to document my experience trying to conceive, what I learned along the way, and my weekly progress growing our family one finger and toe at a time. This is my pregnancy diary.
By 21 weeks, I could see Baby’s kicks through my stomach. What a crazy—and quick!—progression it’s been since I could first feel his kicks inside, to feeling them with my hand, and now being able to see them through my stomach! But while Baby seems to be getting decidedly stronger, it was at this time I realized what it means to “slow down”—and just how important it is!We had a garage sale this weekend, and started DIY-renovations on our bathroom. I went at both with my usual gusto, only to be sore and exhausted for days. People have started bringing me chairs to sit down in, reminding me to relax, and imploring me not to “do too much.” While I absolutely hate feeling like I can’t do as much as I used to, the impact manual labor has on my body has made “slowing down” pretty unavoidable.
Until 22 weeks, my symptoms in the second trimester had been pretty standard: heartburn and inconsistent sleep were really the only two giving me a hard time anymore. But by my 22nd
week, the heartburn was starting to trigger my asthma.My OB explained that, because I’m so short-waisted, my growing uterus and baby literally have nowhere to go but up and out. It’s why I’m showing so much already, and why my heartburn is so bad. She warned it would only get worse from here, and prescribed me Zantac (as often as I need, but hopefully not daily
). Now, you know I try to avoid conventional medicine as much as possible; so, despite my doctor’s advice, I suffered through the heartburn for another week before finally giving in and taking Zantac (see Week 23 for what finally made me take it
).Another unwelcome symptom this week was weight gain. Not that I gained a ton in this particular
week, but the fact that the doctor confirmed I had gained 11 pounds in the last month, for a total of 23. For my pre-pregnant size, 25-35 pounds is considered “healthy and normal” for the entire pregnancy. I was two pounds away from the lower limit, with half of the pregnancy to go! Doc agreed it was most likely all in my belly, but encouraged me to move more and avoid sweets and fats. Moving more was easy: I don’t like to just walk, so I made an effort to do laps around my office every time I got up, spent 15-20 minutes a day training our dogs, and spent weekends working around the house with Jason. But avoiding sweets and fats over the holidays was going to be decidedly harder. As long as baby and I stay healthy, though, the weight isn’t something that I should worry about (at least that’s what everyone says, right?
).To combat both my heartburn and weight gain, Jason started making me milk-based protein shakes in the morning— the milk to help soothe my esophagus, the protein shake to replace a meal. Fingers crossed it helps.
Before I go into the challenge that was week 23, I first have to acknowledge it as a milestone. My mom miscarried two babies, and delivered one of my sisters at 23 weeks. The baby, Janice, didn’t survive. So making it to (and through
) 23 weeks was a big deal for me. Next, I’m looking forward to making it to 28 weeks, when she prematurely delivered ME!Now, back to the challenging part. So remember how my OB said my heartburn would only get worse? She was right. In my 23rd
week, it turned to reflux. I woke up from a nap with bile in my throat, coughed, choked, and dry-heaved on it, and then spent an hour trying to calm the fire in my esophagus. This was the turning point when I couldn’t avoid using conventional medicine to manage my symptoms anymore. Jason went out and bought a pack of Zantac that day.Now, on days that I take Zantac (remember, my OB didn’t want me taking it every day
), the heartburn is manageable and sometimes it’s even non-existent! But on days I don’t take it, my entire chest and upper back hurt so bad that I can’t get comfortable. I could go about four hours before the burn set in. So, in addition to the Zantac, I cut out acidic foods—tomatoes, citrus fruits, etc.—and tried to minimize my intake of spicy foods (spicy is my favorite, though, so it’s been hard
). Nothing seemed to really make a difference, though: if I don’t take Zantac, it doesn’t matter what I eat, I WILL get painful, sometimes debilitating, heartburn. It is what it is.I also realized this week just how congested I’ve become. My allergist mentioned my sinuses were inflamed a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t think anything of it. Now, I can’t avoid it: I’m stuffy pretty much all day, post-nasal drip has given me a chronic sore throat, I wake up coughing in the morning, and cough off and on during the day. So far, this hasn’t become too much of a hassle, so I’ve avoided treating it in any way. We’ll see how it progresses, though.My only other new symptom this week was the “pregnancy glow.” Pregnancy glow is the flushed appearance your skin gets because of the excess amount of blood circulating in your body (up to 50% more at its peak!
). I don’t notice it in my face too much—probably because I’m used to the chronic redness of mild rosacea already—but I notice it most on my belly and thighs. It’s like a sunburn: when I press, the red skin turns white and fades back to pink within a few seconds. It’s nothing to worry about, just something I noticed.Oh! I also finally saw my dentist about my pregnancy gingivitis this week. The cleaning I got was interesting: the tech had to be extremely gentle and slow because every time she ran her tool across my teeth it sent zingers into my gums/jaw. That was fun. My dentist confirmed that I did, indeed, have pregnancy gingivitis, and gave me a bottle of PerioGard to rinse with daily. Hopefully it helps.In really exciting news, we finished a couple more house projects this week, bringing us even closer to a functional, family-friendly home! We finished our bathroom remodel—including laying tile, which we did 100% ourselves; had canned lights installed in the living room (somehow we managed to go without light in our living room for an entire 2.5 years before finally having it installed);
and had the walls of our garage insulated and finished with drywall so we could make it a more usable space (it will eventually double as storage/garage space + Jason’s man cave/home gym
).Our to-do list seems to be growing—and the amount of time we have to complete it shrinking—but there's nothing like knowing it's all in preparation for our little boy to join us!
The honeymoon that is the second trimester is officially over, and my myriad of “minor” symptoms finally combined to create a wave of pretty much constant discomfort. In addition to my heartburn, reflux, pregnancy gingivitis, and congestion/sore throat, week 24 brought back pain, nose bleeds, swelling, and a really—REALLY—itchy belly.The back pain is the worst. After about four hours sitting at my desk, I started having to fidget and angle myself in different positions to try to relieve the pain. One day it got so bad (after eight hours at the office and two spent commuting in the car
) that I finally had to get a pregnancy belt. As mentioned, I’m showing A LOT already. My belly is sticking straight out, and it’s put a ton of pressure on my low back (I couldn’t even stand and wash dishes for two minutes without it seizing up
). So I got a belt to help hold my belly up so my back doesn’t have to do all the work. It’s not the most comfortable thing—and having to take it on and off makes going to the bathroom a whole lot more of a hassle—but it definitely helped me make it through my days with the least amount of back pain.My nose has become quite the nuisance, too; because despite my congestion, it’s dry. Therefore, it started bleeding this week. Not so much traditional nose bleeds—I’d just notice my phlegm would be bloody when I’d blow my nose. Using the heater probably wasn’t doing anything to help (in fact, warm air generally dries things out MORE
), so the humidifier runs constantly in our house now.One unexpected symptom this week was swelling. I can’t see it just yet, but it was quite apparent when I tried to put on a pair of my favorite boots. They were a little tight in the calf, but completely
tight in the foot. So much so I couldn’t even wear them. So that’s fun.About as fun as my itchy belly. This one really came out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t read anywhere to expect it, and one day it just started itching—like, constantly, and badly. Apparently, the dryness and stretching cause it. So, when it got really bad, I’d slather on my belly oil to help relive it; I try to rub (not scratch)
when it gets too bad to ignore. I’m really
hoping this isn’t predicting the onset of stretch marks, but what will be will be (or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself
So at the start of my 25th week, I thought our little boy was sitting really close to the surface—it felt hard when I pressed in the area, and I thought it must be his head. Well, when it happened several more times (sometimes multiple times a day
) I decided to look it up and found out it was the start of Braxton Hicks contractions! These contractions are basically like practice contractions and can start anytime after 20 weeks. Your uterus tightens and your belly becomes hard, as it does when you're in labor (but don't worry, they aren't an indication of premature labor
). They can be painful—luckily, mine haven't been yet—but I've read that changing positions can help.Speaking of my belly, the faint start of the linea negra started showing up this week. It's the dark line that runs the length of your belly. Nothing to report, other than it's fun(?) to watch it darken.Perhaps the strangest symptom this week has been the onset of pregnancy nightmares. I read that you can expect to have vivid dreams as you progress, and mine have started. Last night I dreamed I gave birth to our baby, but he was very underdeveloped; doctors said it was because I had exposed him to Toxic Shock Syndrome (ladies, you know what I'm talking about
) the entire pregnancy, and it had stunted his growth. It was devastating. Hopefully I don't have too many more like this.Despite all of that, we got a 4D ultrasound of our little guy this week and it was amazing! At one point he started sucking his thumb, and we could see his jaw moving and making the suckling motions! Seeing his face makes all the discomfort worth it.
The swelling really kicked in during my 26th week, and my wedding rings were no longer comfortable. I could still get them on and off, but it required effort. To the jewelry box they went.But swelling was the least of my worries this week. As mentioned, I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple weeks. When they first came on, it was only a handful a day; but as time passed, I started having more and more every day, especially at night. During week 26, they came on every ten minutes for more than an hour while I was in bed—and my OB had said if there was a clear pattern to them, or I had more than five an hour, to head to the hospital—so we hit the road and got to the birthing center at 11 pm. After an hour and a half of monitoring, urine tests, and dilation checks (and, yep, continued contractions every 10 minutes
), the doctors concluded I was not in labor. Heat packs and Tylenol seemed to help calm the muscle spasms, but we were in the clear for now—I'm just one of the lucky women who gets more BH contractions than usual. They told me to come back if there got repetitive again, or if I showed signs to labor (bleeding, cramping, etc.
). I tried not to let my contractions worry me, but I started a diary of them, just to stay aware.
On the heels of our emergency hospital visit last week, my OB wanted me to come in for one more test: a fetal fibrunectin test. This test, administered basically like a Pap smear, swabs your cervix and checks for signs of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is what your baby sits in, so its presence on the outside of your cervix would indicate a breach and a 14% chance of delivering in the next two weeks. My mom delivered me at 28 weeks and I was in the NICU for 45 days, so I was pretty nervous.Luckily, the test came back negative. My OB said that while it means we're in the clear for the next two weeks, it doesn't mean it will stay that way—that if my contractions got regular again, we'd run the test again (and as many times as needed
) to keep an eye on any progression of my symptoms.Another test that came back negative this week was my glucose test! So, overall, nothing but positive news this week!SaveSaveSaveSave